School neuroscience unleashes students’ brain power

Educational neuroscience empowers teachers with new insights into how all students learn and holds promise for enhancing special ed, but myths and exaggerations sprouting up around the burgeoning field could lead to children being labeled, which could limit their abilities, experts say.

Recent neuroscience research has debunked some popular modern education concepts but reinforced others as more is understood about how learning changes the brain physically, says Daniel Ansari, a cognitive neuroscientist at The University of Western Ontario and a director of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society.

Read more of the article here:

http://www.districtadministration.com/article/neuroscience-builds-students-brain-power

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Summer: A Great Time to Move Toward Deep Reflection

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I love the summer…. I’m sure many people do.  A perfect day for me would be to go for a run and then relax with a book at a specialty coffee shop. Of course, when you throw kids into the picture, it alters a bit, but as long as I can spend part of the day exercising and another part of the day reading, I feel like I am fulfilling a physical and mental need.

The other day I took my kids to the park.  I was researching for a presentation I’m involved with in August, and I wanted them to be able to exercise outside while I was immersed into reading a book about differentiation.  I couldn’t help but listen in on a conversation two adults were having near me.  While I hate to admit it, I do enjoy eavesdropping from time to time.  The two adult were talking about the education system in America and were less than optimistic.  One had been a teacher and the other wanted to be a teacher.  Since I’m in the education system, and I was reading a book about differentiation, I couldn’t help but listen in.  Needless to say, it was a discouraging conversation.  The pair was lamenting about the standards at each grade level, testing, and the crux of having to teach without any sense of creativity.  This is often an argument in education.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand this argument, but I know it is possible, in many classrooms and subject areas, to move beyond a scripted language.  The conversation the pair was having boiled down to their main point of, “Why do we even need teachers?  Why not just put a robot in the front of the room?”  My heart was aching.  I wasn’t bold enough to engage in their conversation, but I wanted to let them know that even if teachers feel restricted at times, there are still moments during our class periods, days, weeks, months, grading periods and so on to be creative.  We can differentiate with standards and we can add movement to our lessons no matter how mundane we think the content might be.  In fact, I would argue, we need to if we are going to help students be successful by teaching up to meet not only their needs, but demands that educators face.

Even though I felt a little discouraged by the conversation I was listening in on, I also felt, and continue to feel, motivated to help foster a teaching passion for the teachers I will be coming in contact in August and throughout the year.  I love teaching, and even if politics can sometimes dampen the spirits of education, I find it empowering to counter this belief and trudge forward through the pessimism to inspire optimism.  The youth of today I valuable, just like they were yesterday, and just like they will be in the future.  I will not give up on them, and I will not let negativity get in the way of the job that I find to be worthy and fulfilling.

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Letting kids move in class isn’t a break from learning. It IS learning.

“For school to be a place where the talents of young people are cultivated rather than extinguished, we need to give students the freedom and responsibility to tinker, explore, test, prod, and physically interact with the world around them.”

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Read the article here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/19/letting-kids-move-in-class-isnt-a-break-from-learning-it-is-learning/

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